Provincial Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Kent
Resumption of Masonry - Roadmap to Restarting 29th May 2021
Dear Brethren,

As we near the recommencement of masonic activity in Kent, my senior executive and I wanted to provide each Lodge with the right guidance package, to help support and encourage units to return to their respective meetings once it is practical and safe to do so.

To support Lodges to prepare for the resumption, the Provincial Executive, in conjunction with the Provincial Care & Welfare Committee and the Provincial Membership Committee, are pleased to offer units a roadmap to restarting. This advice and guidance is intended to help you navigate the difficulties you may face in successfully resuming your meetings. The multi-pronged approach suggested is designed to ensure that the right individuals have access to the right information to help guide Lodges through any problems or concerns that may arise. Advice covering each of the following key areas can be accessed by clicking the links below:

Care and Welfare
As we all follow the Government guidance and roadmap out of the coronavirus pandemic, your lodge(s) will naturally begin to turn its attention to resuming Masonic activity including lodge meetings. The Mark Province of Kent wishes to offer some ideas from a care, welfare & benevolence perspective to assist lodges make a successful transition to business as usual.

These ideas are based on discussions in our monthly Provincial Care & Welfare Committee virtual meetings and draw upon our collective knowledge, which has developed over the last 12 months. We hope that these ideas will stimulate the thinking of members of our Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodges when considering how best to proceed.

It is entirely a matter for each lodge to decide how best to tackle the challenges that lie ahead but we do believe that these ideas have merit. Don’t forget that we are here to help you.

Focus
  • Think about the health and wellbeing of your members and how you can best support them
  • Recognise that your greatest asset are the members of your lodge
  • Remember that Welfare, Welfare, Welfare is our top priority
  • Take steps to build the confidence of your members and help them to be comfortable socialising again
  • Think about the kind of lodge you want to be
Relationships
  • Apply Masonic tenets and principles in relationships at all times; avoid piques and quarrels
  • Show consideration and understanding for everyone’s needs; everyone has been affected in some way by the pandemic
  • Be kind to others
  • Be inclusive
  • Make transport arrangements to assist members to attend lodge meetings; consider car-sharing (if permissible)
Safety
  • Highlight the lodge room as a safe environment, secure from the storms and anxieties of the outside world
  • Share Masonic Centre safety measures and build confidence of members
  • Take account of Government, Public Health England and NHS advice and guidance, e.g. social distancing, hand sanitising, etc.
  • Do not attend your lodge if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or are feeling unwell; respect your fellow members by not passing on any illnesses
  • Do not attend your lodge if you have tested positive for COVID-19, even if you are displaying no symptoms; consider using a lateral flow test kit
  • Think through the various considerations for your lodge meeting and plan it well
Keeping in touch with Members
  • Keeping in touch with members during the pandemic and between meetings is essential
  • Find out your members’ preferred mode of communication
  • Let members know in advance what might be different when they attend the lodge meeting
  • Let members know what plans have been made
  • Practice active listening
Lodge Almoner Activity
  • The Kent Mark and GLMMM Handbooks for Lodge Almoners offer guidance and advice on the role of Lodge Almoner; they are easily accessible on the provincial website Lodge Almoner ought to be one of the first offices to be filled in every lodge; those appointed ought to have the requisite skills and time to perform the role effectively
  • Be proactive; look out for members and their families in need and respond appropriately
  • Ensure no pressure put on any member to return, it is a personal choice; respect individual wishes; no-one is to be coerced into attending
  • Acknowledge and recognise those we have lost; hold a moments silence in dignified remembrance
  • Share ideas around the importance of good mental health and simple steps that can be taken to support mental wellbeing
  • Make use of the Kent and GLMMM Handbooks for Lodge Almoners
  • General Data Protection Regulations must be complied with when reporting on members and their families in open lodge
  • Build a Lodge Welfare Support Group; Lodge Almoners can engage other members of the lodge to assist them in their duties, thereby spreading the load
  • Lodge Almoners have a vital role in retaining existing members
  • Be proactive in your role, not passive
  • Liaise effectively with your respective Craft Lodge Almoners
Provincial Activity
  • Our Provincial Care & Welfare Committee and our Provincial Grand Almoner and his team are there for all our members and their families
  • Our team is experienced in preparing petitions for relief; just refer any member in need and we will do the rest
  • Welfare and benevolence pages on the provincial website contain useful information for lodges and members
  • The provincial social media pages are worth liking or following; they contain lots of helpful material on care, welfare and benevolence
  • A welfare case management system is operated by the Provincial Grand Almoner and his team; 18 members of the province were supported during 2020
  • Seminars are held from time to time for Lodge Almoners to assist them to perform their duties; it is wise for all lodges to be represented
  • Help is at hand, all you need to do is ask
  • A WhatsApp group has been created for the benefit of Lodge Almoners so they can support each other and share good practice
  • A regular Newsletter is published by the Provincial Grand Almoner
  • Key care, welfare and benevolence messages are posted on social media and on the provincial website from time to time
  • The KMBF Trustees urge you to ‘help us to help you’
  • The In Memoriam page on the provincial website is a dignified way of remembering those we have lost; members are encouraged to visit it from time to time
  • Our fortnightly Provincial Drop-in Sessions and Provincial Virtual Lodges of Instruction will continue as long as members want us to do so Health & Wellbeing
  • It will be necessary to address ongoing health concerns long after the pandemic has ended
  • Good mental health is as important as good physical health
  • Lodges might wish to be represented at the provincial virtual lecture on Mental Health & Wellbeing
  • Effective use should be made of the booklet entitled ‘Mental Health – A Roadmap to Expert Help’ when it is published
  • We all have a responsibility for our personal wellbeing
Financial Wellbeing
  • Financial wellbeing is a particular concern, especially as a result of the coronavirus pandemic; lodges can identify and support members and their families in need
  • Make effective use of the various Masonic funding sources available: MCF, MBF, KMBF, Prov.G.M.’s Discretionary Fund, Craft benevolent funds, etc.
  • Effective use should be made of the booklet ‘Debt – A Roadmap to Expert Advice
Download this information as a pdf file.
Membership matters
As we all follow the Government guidance and roadmap out of the coronavirus pandemic, your lodge(s) will naturally begin to turn its attention to resuming Masonic activity including lodge meetings. The Mark Province of Kent wishes to offer some ideas from a RR&R perspective to assist lodges make a successful transition to business as usual.

These ideas are based on discussions in our monthly Provincial Membership Committee virtual meetings and draw upon our collective knowledge, which has developed over the last three years. We hope that these ideas will stimulate the thinking of members of our Mark and Royal Ark Mariner Lodges when considering how best to proceed.

It is entirely a matter for each lodge to decide how best to tackle the challenges that lie ahead but we do believe that these ideas have merit. Don’t forget that we are here to help you.

Approach
  • Be positive, upbeat, enthusiastic, encouraging and inspiring
  • Embrace the new normal
  • Be ready to hit the ground running when Masonic activity resumes
  • Take responsibility for continuous improvement of your lodge
Lodge Profile
  • Identify what makes your lodge special and unique
  • Create a digital online presence for your lodge: website, social media, WhatsApp
  • Think about the ‘health’ of your lodge and how it can be improved; recognise and diagnose the signs that reveal the health of your lodge and take steps to aid its recovery
Member Experience
  • Strive to deliver excellent ceremonies that create brilliant first impressions and leave lasting memories
  • Ensure lodge administration is good
  • Create successful festive boards with a warm ambience and good food
  • Emphasise meetings as an opportunity to renew existing friendships and to make new ones
  • Enjoy each other’s company again and have fun
  • Suppress apathy and other negative opinions
Engaging Members
  • Give every member of the lodge a copy of the Provincial Membership Growth Strategy 2019- 2024 so they can identify how they can help personally
  • Bring everyone with you on the journey back to business as usual
  • Ask members themselves how they wish to resume their Masonry and how they’d like their lodge to be run
  • Consider sociable pre-return events: coffee mornings, afternoon teas, curry nights
  • Give every member of the lodge a role; make them all feel part of the lodge
  • Build an active social life for your lodge and involve members and their families Lodge Membership Coordinator Activity
  • Lodge Membership Coordinators have a critical role to play in relation to RR&R
  • Prepare a Lodge Strategy for Growth & Succession to drive membership growth
  • Build a Lodge Growth Action Plan
  • Set a target number of new members to attract each year and focus on growth
  • Aim to Advance or Elevate candidate(s) in the first 2-3 months after resumption; get back into the swing of delivering ceremonies as soon as possible
  • Make use of resources to attract candidates: websites, social media, 6 Reasons to Join Mark Masonry, 9 Reasons to Join R.A.M.
  • Display Mark and R.A.M. posters in your Masonic Centre
  • Host Magic of the Mark awareness events in your own lodge or attend such events in other lodges or at provincial level; take at least one potential candidate with you
  • Make use of the MMH Management Board package of financial concessions to attract candidates and joining members
  • Encourage members to talk openly and confidently in promoting Mark Masonry and Royal Ark Mariner Masonry; enthuse your members; remind them that personal invitation is what works best
  • Keep your prospective candidates ‘warm’ and in touch with what is happening in your lodge
  • Openly celebrate all Advancements and Elevations
  • Conduct a member survey; invite members to define what is important for growing your lodge
  • Consider arranging additional lodge meetings
Reduce Avoidable Losses
  • Monitor attendance of members and act promptly when a member is absent; provide support and encourage him to return at the next meeting
  • Do not permit a passive or mechanical approach to payment of annual subscriptions and exclusions
  • Avoid cessations; there should be no need for there to be a cessation ever
  • Seek to reduce the number of resignations; make it clear you do not want the member to leave – make this your starting position
  • Treat people as valued members of the lodge
  • Build a lodge succession plan around key roles
  • Utilise the skills and expertise of lodge members; create opportunities for members to display their talents
  • Recognise and acknowledge good work
  • Align Mark and R.A.M. Lodges better, e.g. meeting on the same day
  • Align the lodge financial year end with that of GLMMM (31st August), which can mitigate the financial implications of any unavoidable exclusions
Encourage Visiting
  • Make your first meeting back something special, e.g. send particular invites to honorary members, reduced dining fee (if funds allow), themed festive board, etc.
  • Make your lodge a welcoming environment for visitors
  • Publish a list of key dates: meetings, venues, times, contact details
  • Remind members to invite at least one guest to every meeting
  • Work in partnership with other lodges that meet locally; foster opportunities for reciprocal visiting
  • Welcome visits by Mark Master Masons and/or Royal Ark Mariners who are currently unable to attend lodges in their own province
Download this information as a pdf file.
Administrative requirements
As we now near the point where we can restart our meetings, it is important to remember that we are probably all a little bit rusty and we will no doubt have a question or two regarding how best to proceed.

To help support Secretaries and Scribes as you start to plan for your first meeting, the Provincial Secretariat would like to offer the following advice to help support you and your Lodges.

This advice is intended to supplement the requirements as set out by GLMMM, which must be read in conjunction with the requirements detailed in the Constitutions and Regulations of the Order.

If you take just one thing from this document, please remember that we are here to help you, no one needs to feel unsure about anything, all you have to do ask and the team will be happy to assist.

First meeting
The first face to face meeting for all Mark and R.A.M. Lodges in the Province will be an Installation meeting. This is because every Lodge has missed at least one Installation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Considerations:
Membership
  • Do your members want to meet?
  • Will you have enough members to be quorate?
No one should feel pressured to attend a meeting, no matter what role they have nor what Office they hold. The Provincial Grand Master’s Support & Demonstration Team might be able to offer assistance if you are struggling.

Venue
  • Is your Masonic Centre open?
  • Can you source and arrange an alternative?
  • What would your members like to do about dining?
  • What restrictions or special
  • requirements does your venue have in place?
Not all venues are opening immediately, as a result of which you may not be able to hold a meeting at your usual venue. It also means that those centres that are open, are likely to be busier than usual. If you cannot meet and you are unable to find an alternative venue then please consider holding a Lodge VBM to enable you carry out any important business your Lodge needs to transact, or alternatively please consider holding virtual social ‘get togethers’ for your members. It is important to keep in contact regularly with each other.

Documentation
Summons
There are many aspects that you will wish to consider, from standard agenda items such as minutes or the Installation of WM/WCdr, to more specific items like accounts, candidates, subscriptions, charity donations, etc. We have provided a separate guide to assist you, which can be found by clicking the following link: Dispensations
You may well need one or more dispensations for your meeting, the most common ones being:
  • To Elect and Install the WM/WCdr at the same meeting (available free on KOL)
  • To change the date of the Installation meeting (from that shown in your Lodge By-Laws)
  • To change the date of a meeting
  • To change the location of a meeting
There are, of course, other dispensations but these will probably be the most common ones required. All dispensations issued at a Provincial level, that are required as a direct result of COVID-19 or due to the on-going issues relating to restrictions etc., will be issued free of charge to Lodges. Dispensation forms can be found via the following links: Installation Return
Only once you have held a physical meeting will you be able to complete your Lodge’s Installation Return. Once completed, please send a copy to the Prov.G.Reg. who will be happy to action the requirements on your Lodge’s behalf. The forms for this can be found by using the following links: Accounts
If your Lodge(s) approves any Accounts please send a copy to the Prov.G.Reg.

Where to send it?
General advice on where to send documents can be found using the following link: Membership Updates
The following link will take you to the form enabling you to advise the Province of any updates for your members, which you think we need to be aware of: Lodge VBM’s
Lodge Virtual Business Meetings will remain in place for some time to come. They are specifically designed for any unit that is unable to meet or feels it is a little early for them to resume their masonic activities. Guidance, advice and the forms and templates to help you plan, obtain the relevant permissions and hold a successful VBM are available from the Secretariat should you require them.

General
No doubt there will be some challenges ahead but please don’t be daunted by the prospect of resuming masonic activities. It will take some time for us to catch up on those things we have missed and for things to once again feel more ‘normal’. Take an easy approach, don’t put yourself or others under too much pressure to sort out everything at your first meeting. In short, take it fairly easy, enjoy the opportunity to get together once again and to appreciate our wonderful Mark and R.A.M. masonry.

Lastly, as previously mentioned, the team is here to help, to answer any questions you may have and to offer help and support as required. Please feel free to ask.

Download this information as a pdf file.
Ritual and Ceremonial considerations
As we now near the point where we can restart our meetings, it is important to remember that we are probably not all on top form as we were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all missed around a year not only of meetings but also of LOI’s and other forums where we learn and practice our ritual.

To help Lodge DC’s and ADC’s to prepare for the resumption of meetings we would like to offer the following advice on ritual and ceremonial matters. This advice is intended to supplement the requirements set out by GLMMM.

First meeting
It is important to remember when we commence Lodge meetings that the first activity that needs to be dealt with must be the Installation of the new Worshipful Master or Worshipful Commander.

Key Considerations
Ritual
Installations take various forms, from a full ceremony for a new WM/WCdr to an Induction or Proclamation of a past or current WM/WCdr. The following section details the elements of ritual that need to be undertaken and references the relevant pages in the up to date ritual books.

Mark
Details for a full Installation are found on page 4 of the Mark Ritual No.2, 2015, reprinted 2019. For an Induction these are found on page 20 and for a Proclamation on page 24. For all these ceremonies the Investitures of the Officers and the Addresses must be performed in full.

R.A.M.
Details for a full Installation are found on page 5 of the R.A.M. Ritual No.2, 2010 reprinted 2019. For an Induction these are found on page 21 and for a Proclamation on page 33. As with the Mark ceremony a full Investiture of the Officers and the Address must be performed.

GLMMM Guidance
The following links from Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons (GLMMM) will take you to the latest guidance regarding ritual and ceremonial matters: Support
The Provincial Grand Master’s Support & Demonstration Team are available to help and support Lodges that may need assistance. Details of how to request support can be found by following the link: Equipment
Overall, the safety of our Brethren must be our highest priority, Lodge furniture must be handled carefully and in accordance with any guidelines from GLMMM and any specific instructions set out by the Masonic Centre or venue you are meeting in. Even as restrictions are reduced, or even lifted, it is important to understand that not everyone will be ready for a full return to how things were previously carried out. It might be useful for your Lodge to adopt the general principal to use as few items of furniture and regalia as possible when initially returning to meetings. The table below sets out minimum requirements for Mark and R.A.M. Lodges.

Mark
  • Warrant of the Lodge
  • Volume of the Sacred Law
  • Mallet and Chisel
  • Possibly (but not essential) three gavels (pre sanitised)
Note: Other furniture is permitted but not essential. It would be a matter for individual Lodges to decide.

R.A.M.
  • Warrant of the Lodge
  • Porphyry Stone and Triangle
  • Volume of the Sacred Law (unopened on the pedestal)
  • Possibly (but not essential) three sceptres or gavels (pre sanitised)
Note: Other furniture is permitted but not essential. It would be a matter for individual Lodges to decide.

General
As a last point of general advice we recommend that the best approach is one of encouragement. It will have been a considerable time since most members will have seen or participated in a masonic ceremony and it might take a little while before we can expect previous standards to return fully. It is also worth remembering that we will need to be aware that there may be some nervousness from some Brethren regarding the resumption of meetings and their personal situation. Please do not be too enthusiastic in your encouragement to attend the first meetings; individual members should only return to meetings when they themselves feel comfortable to do so.

If you have any specific questions relating to ritual or ceremonial not covered in this section, please contact the Prov.G.D.C. who will be happy to offer help, advice and support.

Download this information as a pdf file.

Whilst comprehensive, the documents provided cannot cover every eventuality, therefore, in addition to the guidance they contain, my executive remain available to assist you with any challenges, which you might need additional advice or support to overcome. If you have any questions regarding what this means for you or your Lodge, please feel free to ask.

Whilst the current Local Suspension remains in place, we are reviewing this regularly and are hopeful that once the Government confirms the next stage of the relaxation of restrictions, we will be able to issue instructions allowing Lodges to resume face to face activities. We will provide further clarity on this in the very near future.

It is very important to emphasise that whilst we will shortly be encouraging units to resume meeting, individual members should only return to meetings when they feel it is right for them. No Brother should feel coerced into resuming masonic activities before they themselves are ready.

Please do look after yourselves and keep in touch with the elderly and more vulnerable members of your lodges to ensure they are okay.

Yours aye,

R.W.Bro. Archibald I. Torrance
Provincial Grand Master
Mark Province of Kent


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